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Colin Howell: How the murderer's 18 years of deceit, prevarication and depraved self-justification finally ended

It is 10 years since Colin Howell's wife forced him to confess to police that he had murdered his first wife and the husband of his then lover. Bimpe Archer looks back on how the terrible secret emerged

Castlerock dentist Colin Howell finally publicly confessed to the double murder 10 years ago

ON Thursday January 28 2009, Kyle Howell turned to her dentist husband in the kitchen of their family home and told him: "Colin, today is the day."

Colin Howell, who had moved out of the luxury house in Castlerock, Co Derry in December and into a caravan, had just returned from leaving their children at school.

It was the moment 18 years of deceit, prevarication and depraved self-justification finally ended.

Not, however, without a struggle. Howell told her it did not feel like the right moment for him and he probably wanted another day to work it out.

"No," his wife insisted. "This is the moment."

 Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan who were murdered in 1991

She had known for a decade that the man she was married to had conspired with his lover Hazel Buchanan to kill her husband Trevor (32) and his first wife Lesley Howell (31).

He confessed just over a year after they had married following a whirlwind five-month romance as she was feeding their baby son Erik.

Howell had just finished his dinner and their children were playing outside.

New Yorker Kyle had moved to Northern Ireland with her two children to study Irish history at the University of Ulster following an abusive marriage in the US.

The pair first met at a 'singles night' at his home in December 1996 not long after Howell's six-year relationship with Hazel Buchanan (later Stewart) ended, and five years after they murdered their spouses

By February they were engaged and the new Mrs Howell fell pregnant a fortnight after their May wedding - bringing the number of children in their blended family to seven.

The Sunday School teacher later told the court he "wanted to be fair to her", giving his account of `difficulties' in his first marriage, claiming Lesley Howell had abortions and drank.

Kyle Howell, still recovering from hospital treatment for an infection after her labour seven months earlier, was "freaked out and scared" by the confession and told him then: "You have to go to the police."

But he urged her to take a deep breath and think of the children.

She spoke to friends in their Ballymoney church, Barn Christian Fellowship, asking one: "What if Colin has done something?"

Mrs Howell said he replied: "I don't want to hear it. It's before the Cross... You shouldn't tell on other people before that time in their life."

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Colin Howell confessed to his wife Kyle (nee Jorgensen) that he had conspired with his lover Hazel Buchanan to kill her husband Trevor (32) and his first wife Lesley Howell (31)

Howell initially consented to go to police, after his wife promised to stand by him, visit him in prison and look after the children until he got out.

But he persuaded her that he first needed to set up their financial security, starting by selling off his dental practice in Scotland.

With her parents due to fly in from America in September, he told her a public confession should take place then, with both their families and church elders.

Howell made a reservation at the Burrendale Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down for the declaration, which they believed would end in arrest and incarceration.

The luxury house in Castlerock, Co Derry where Kyle Howell told her husband to publicly confess to his crime

However, a call from his father saying he would not be able to make the rendezvous the next day was the religious Howell's first 'sign' that the time might not be auspicious to reveal his heinous crime.

He went to his church on the appointed Sunday where he claims a girl delivered a message: "Colin, I just don’t know why I am telling you this but your sins are forgiven and forgotten by God."

Kyle said he blackmailed her for 10 years to keep his secret for the sake of their children, threatening to kill himself.

The pair went on to have another four children.

The luxury house in Castlerock, Co Derry where Kyle Howell told her husband to publicly confess to his crime

She later described how she found it hard to reconcile the two sides of the man she had married.

"I really looked up to him as a teacher. His biblical knowledge was amazing. He knew it all, but the faith I believe he's been living is really very hypocritical," she told the Sunday Mirror.

"He would preach on what kind of people we ought to be, about sexual immorality. This was going on for years. I had no idea. He could do it right to your face. He was very deceptive.

"I'm having trouble really seeing one person I've known for 12 years as a good father and loving husband, but really it’s like seeing a completely different person in the same skin.

"... He abused patients, he is a compulsive liar, he was an adulterer in our marriage and murdered two people.

"Everyone thought he was this great Christian guy but they were so wrong. He was a monster."

A leading member of the evangelical church, Howell was secretly addicted to online pornography, committing adultery and, it later emerged, was abusing female patients under heavy sedation at his Ballymoney clinic.

He was shaken by the 2007 death of his and Lesley's eldest son Matthew (22), who died while on university placement in St Petersburg when he fell four floors in the stairwell of an apartment block.

Matthew's had been the name on his mother's dying breath as Howell poisoned her with carbon monoxide.

Meanwhile, in 2008, faced with a mounting unpaid tax bill - despite having taken more than £200,000 in treatments he did not complete - he sold his share in two dental practices to invest in a scam offering up to £8 million for attempts to recover gold supposedly buried in caves in the Philippines by Japanese troops in the 1940s.

Howell planned to give some money to missionary work and use the rest to retire, living part of the year in his holiday home in Florida.

However, when he flew out to check on his investment he discovered he had been conned.

He would claim it was the realisation he had been duped which triggered his confession.

According to Howell, it was he who first confessed to the church elders and announced to his wife he now wanted to confess.

"This is the time to go back to what happened 18 years ago," he told her, describing her as shocked and not ready for him to confess until her surprise confrontation in the kitchen a few days later.

It seems that fresh revelations of his affair, the abuse of patients and the loss of their financial security were the final straw for his wife.

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